|Clara and Larry Hedrich of LaClare Farms in Wisconsin with
David Rogers, of Standard Market in Illinois.
One cheese: two makers. The European model of separating cheese making from cheese aging, while celebrating both the cheesemaker and the affineur, got a boost in America tonight, as a farmstead cheese from Wisconsin aged in cellars in Illinois was named the second best cheese in the nation.
Standard Market Cave Aged Chandoka, a mixed milk cheese crafted with goat and cow’s milk by Katie Hedrich Fuhrmann and her team on LaClare Farm, and aged by David Rogers and his team at Standard Market in Westmont, Illinois, was named Runner-Up Best in Show at the 2015 American Cheese Society competition, widely regarded as the Oscars of the artisan cheese industry. The Cave Aged Chandoka tied Roth’s Private Reserve from Emmi Roth in Monroe for runner-up honors, while Best in Show went to Celtic Blue Reserve from Ontario, Canada.
“I just got off the phone with Katie, and all she could say was: ‘Holy crap’. We both agreed that might be an understatement,” David said shortly after the win was announced. While Katie was not in Providence to accept the award (she stayed home to make cheese), her parents, LaClare Farms founders, Larry and Clara Hedrich, climbed on stage with big smiles to accept top honors with David.
|Standard Market Cave Aged Chandoka|
While only four wheels – yes, just four wheels – of the winning batch of Cave Aged Chandoka exist in the cellars at Standard Market, another 20 wheels will be available in four months, with another 20 wheels available soon after, and so on. The cheese is currently in very limited retail – you can find it at Standard Market, Eataly and Mariano’s in Chicago – but like any big win, the cheese will likely be in much broader distribution once more is properly aged.
The award is particularly vindicating for Standard Market, which put significant time and expense into building in-store aging cellars to create a unique American artisan cheese aging program, a bold move not common or even understood in the United States.
“We started cave-aging the Chandoka about three years ago,” David says, and over time and trial, settled on releasing the cheese at about six months. Twenty-two pound wheels of LaClare Farms Chandoka are shipped right out of the vat to Standard Market, where David and his team apply lard and linen. Regular Chandoka, sold by LaClare Farms, is not bandage wrapped and is sold younger. The difference between the two cheeses is night and day. Where regular Chandoka is mellow, creamy and smooth, Standard Market Cave Aged Chandoka is bold, earthy and crumbly. It’s hard to even tell they were ever once the same cheese.
Rounding out the Best in Show honors was Harbison from the Cellars at Jasper Hill, a company well-known for aging cheese for other cheesemakers in its underground caves in Vermont. The Cellars won Best in Show in 2013 with Winnimere, and again in 2006, with Cabot Clothbound Cheddar aged at The Cellars at Jasper Hill.
|Hidden Springs Creamery Cheesemaker
Brenda Jensen with her 9 ribbons.
The 2015 ACS Judging & Competition saw 1,779 entries of cheeses and cultured dairy products from 267 companies from 31 states and three Canadian provinces. Wisconsin cheesemakers took the most awards of any state – with 99 total ribbons. California was second with 47, while Vermont captured 44 awards.
Hidden Springs Creamery, a farmstead sheep dairy near Westby, won the most awards for Wisconsin, with nine ribbons, tied with Lactalis in Belmont. Klondike Cheese was close behind, with eight awards, while Sartori Cheese, Hook’s Cheese and Crave Brothers all earned five ribbons apiece.
Holland’s Family Cheese swept the International Style with Flavor Added – All Milks category, with a first place for Marieke Gouda Foenegreek, second place for Marieke Gouda Cumin, and third place for Marieke Gouda Jalapeno. Cheesemaker Marieke Penterman did a happy dance on stage upon learning she had won all three ribbons in the class.
All Wisconsin companies earning awards at tonight’s competition for their cheeses were:
- Arena Cheese, Arena: Colby
- Arthur Schuman Inc, Montfort: Cello Rich and Creamy Mascarpone, Montforte Gorgonzola Cheese Wheel, Montforte Blue Cheese Wheel, Cello Riserva Copper Kettle Parmesan Cheese, Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan Cheese
- BelGioioso Cheese, Green Bay: Gorgonzola with Sheep’s Milk, American Grana, Sharp Provolone Mandarino, Black Truffle Burrata
- Burnett Dairy Cooperative, Grantsburg: Smoked String Cheese
- Cedar Grove Cheese, Plain: Ovella, Weird Sisters, Traditional Feta, Donatello
- Clock Shadow Creamery, Milwaukee: Pizza Cheese Curds
- Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo: White Cheddar Cheese Curds, Oaxaca, Farmer’s Rope String Cheese, Fresh Mozzarella- Bocconcini, Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese Curds
- Edelweiss Creamery, Monticello: Brick
- Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Ellsworth: Brick, Hot Pepper Jack
- Emmi Roth USA, Monroe: Roth’s Private Reserve, GranQueso Reserve, GranQueso, Grand Cru Surchoix
- Graf Creamery, Bonduel: Brethren Roll Salted Butter
- Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby: Manchego Reserve, Farmstead Feta, Driftless-Honey Lavender, Driftless-cranberry cinnamon, Driftless- basil /olive oil, Driftless Natural, Meadow Melody Reserve, Meadow Melody, Timber Coulee Reserve
- Holland’s Family Cheese, Thorp: Marieke Gouda Foenegreek, Marieke Gouda Cumin, Marieke Gouda Jalapeno, Marieke Gouda Aged (9-12 month)
- Hook’s Cheese Company, Mineral Point: Triple Play, Sheep Milk Cheddar, Three Year Cheddar, Barneveld Blue, EWE CALF to be KIDding Blue
- Key Ingredient Market: Garlic Cheddar Spread
- Klondike Cheese, Monroe: Brick, Muenster, Odyssey Peppercorn Feta, Odyssey Tomato & Basil Feta, Odyssey Mediterranean Feta, Odyssey Reduced Fat Tomato & Basil Feta, Odyssey Sour Cream, Odyssey Greek Yogurt
- LaClare Farms Specialties, Pipe: Standard Market Cave Aged Chandoka
- Lactalis American Group, Belmont: 3 Kg. Brie, 1 Kg. Brie, 8oz. Brie, 1 Kg. Camembert, 8oz. Camembert, 3 Kg. Triple Cream Brie, 8oz. Feta, Président 8 oz Parmesan-Peppercorn, Rondelé Garlic & Herbs
- Landmark Creamery, Albany: Petit Nuage
- Maple Leaf Cheese, Monroe: Low-fat Cheddar
- Montchevre-Betin, Inc, Belmont: Fromage Blanc, Chèvre in Blue, Oh-La-La! Fresh Spreadable Goat Cheese
- Mt. Sterling Cheese Co-op, Mt Sterling: Raw Milk Mild Cheddar, Whey Cream Butter
- Organic Valley, LaFarge: Organic Blue Cheese, Organic Pepper Jack, Organic Pasture Butter, Organic Salted Butter, Organic European Style Cultured Butter
- Pine River Pre-Pack, Newton: Port Wine Cold Pack Cheese Food, Pepper Jack Cold Pack Cheese Spread, Chunky Bleu Cold Pack Cheese Food
- Rosewood Dairy, Inc, Algoma: Pesto Farmers Cheese
- Saputo Specialty Cheese, Richfield: Black Creek Colby, Great Midwest Habanero Jack
- Sartori Company, Plymouth: Limited Edition Pastorale Blend, Reserve Dolcina Gorgonzola, Reserve Espresso BellaVitano, Reserve Kentucky Bourbon BellaVitano, Limited Edition, Cognac BellaVitano
- Saxon Cheese, Cleveland: Asiago Fresca
- The Artisan Cheese Exchange, Sheboygan: Deer Creek The Fawn, Deer Creek The Stag, Deer Creek The Doe
- Uplands Cheese, Dodgeville: Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Extra-Aged Pleasant Ridge Reserve
- V&V Supremo Foods: Queso Chihuahua, Queso Chihuahua with Jalapeno Peppers
- Widmer’s Cheese Cellars, Theresa: Washed Rind Brick Cheese, Cheddar with Jalapenos
Congratulations to every company from both the United States and Canada on their wins!
All photos by Uriah Carpenter.